Note 9 First Impressions


I picked up a Note 9 and want to share my initial thoughts. But first, a quick History of my last few years in mobile.

When I moved off of my beloved Windows Phone, I spent some good time with the Note 5 and loved it. Then came the Note 7 but we all know what happened there. So, I moved to a Pixel, then Moto Z Force Droid and finally a Pixel 2 XL (but after dabbing a little in the Note 8.) The Pixel has been the best phone since my Lumia ICON.

Like Paul, Camera is HUGE for me…top of the list. Beyond some things here and there, the Pixel phones haven’t let me down on the camera.

The Note series has always seemed to be a complete, if perhaps, “dream” smartphone, packed with a ton of features and I always found the S-Pen to be very useful.

Spending time with a Pixel and then going back to a Note, in this case the Note 8, I soon realized that Samsung has a lot of bloat. Bixby, duplicate apps, their own app store, menus, etc. I end up missing stock Android. And I don’t want to “hide” from everything by loading a different launcher. That in itself feels bloated and heavy.

Same applies for the Note 9. But here are my random, first thoughts.

·        Screen is amazing. Best I’ve seen on any smartphone.

·        Performance is consistent and snappy.

·        I actually like the edge screen options. I tend to be all widgets on home screens so this is a good place to put app folders.

·        Camera, so far, is a let down, especially when it is essentially the same as in the S9+ and it was rated higher than Pixel 2 XL. I went to take a “Live Focus” (Portrait) photo of my daughter at the bus stop today and it was blurry and never could get it to work correctly.

·        Low light is terrible compared to the Pixel 2 XL, especially if the subject moves even in the slightest.

·        Low light selfie with the screen flash produces grainy shots, which may be expected but the Pixel does it better.

·        Camera, when it has ample conditions, does take some great shots and you can zoom and maintain some incredible detail.

·        Samsung Experience (TouchWiz) is fine but I do not like the rounded squares. I’ve tried looking for themes but nothing truly looks great.

·        Bixby…oh Bixby. Can you just please go home? I’ve turned off the Bixby cards, home page and also voice. It is still there yes it is just not needed in the world of Google Assistant.

·        Battery Life is good but even with 4000mAh battery, I feel that the Pixel 2 XL may still have the battery battery efficiency. I feel I may be back to charging every 12-18 hours whereas my Pixel can go just about 24 hours before I charge it. 

Bottom line…it may go back, as soon as tomorrow. Unless someone can convince me that I’m using the camera wrong, I am very unimpressed. Despite those performance lags I’ve had with the Pixel 2 XL and the upcoming “Notch”, I think I’m going to stay with the Pixel line, especially if the camera remains the most consistently awesome camera that it is.

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